Teen Just Wanted Attackers to Stop

Los Angeles Times/December 9, 2004
By Gregory W. Griggs

A black teenager who reportedly was beaten by four white youths in Simi Valley this week said from his wheelchair Wednesday that "all I could think of was, 'When is it going to stop?' "

Jim King, 17, said that just before the attack he had noticed a group of boys he didn't know about 15 feet away, playing on miniature children's rides outside the 99 Cents Only store where he was trying to sell newspaper subscriptions.

"They walked up to me and start hitting me," King said. He couldn't remember what words were exchanged, he said, but did remember trying to protect his face.

King's mother, Sheila Ford, has hired an attorney and said she is worried about the long-term effects of the attack.

"I don't think he knows it yet, but it will make a difference," said Ford, 42, of Reseda, the mother of three. "I think he'll be more alert when he's in predominantly white areas."

Ford said doctors believe her son may have suffered a torn ligament when he dislocated his right knee trying to flee his attackers Monday evening.

King, who was treated at a Simi Valley Hospital clinic Wednesday, declined to discuss specifics about the incident on the advice of his family's lawyer.

Police said four boys approached him outside the store on Los Angeles Avenue and shouted racial slurs. One punched King, who fell as he tried to get away. The other three then joined in the assault, police said.

Simi Valley police arrested two suspects minutes later. Inside their car was skinhead and white power paraphernalia, police said. Two others were arrested Tuesday.

Three of the four suspects remain in custody at Juvenile Hall in Ventura. A 17-year-old boy from Granada Hills was cited and released to his parents. The three in custody live in Simi Valley.

"From what they found in the car . it definitely seems like a hate crime," Ford said. "It's scary. If there are four of them out there, then there's likely more of them."

Lawyer Steve Rodriguez of Los Angeles said he would work with the Ventura County district attorney's office to ensure that the suspects "are prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law."

He also said he intended to file a civil lawsuit against them and their parents.

Detectives on Wednesday turned over the result of their investigation to the Ventura County Probation Department, which is expected to forward it to the district attorney's office to consider charges, said police Sgt. Joseph May.

If charges are filed, they could include one count of felony battery and one felony count that the assault was racially motivated. A hate crime charge and the fact that there was more than one assailant mean that the suspects, if convicted, could be sentenced to up to eight years in custody, said Stacy Ratner, senior deputy district attorney in charge of hate crimes.

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